| | Five Things About Ava Andrews by Margaret Dilloway Starring: quiet, creative Ava, who has anxiety, a heart condition, and a best friend she thought she could depend on.
What happens: After Ava's best friend moves away, Ava reluctantly joins an improv group and is shocked to realize that improv helps her unleash her ideas, find her voice, and speak up for the things that matter.
Why you might like it: Whether or not you relate to Ava's situation, you'll be rooting for her throughout this hopeful read.
| | Dress Coded by Carrie Firestone What it's about: Eighth-grader Molly is beyond frustrated by her school's impossible dress code. Why is it only girls who get in trouble, especially girls who look a certain way? Since the school won't listen, Molly convinces her classmates to pour their dress code horror stories into a podcast.
How it's told: through letters, lists, and transcripts from Molly's rebellious podcast.
Who it's for: readers who like stories that tell it like it is.
| | A Ceiling Made of Eggshells by Gail Carson Levine What it's about: In late 1400s Spain, with the Inquisition threatening the nation's Jews, young Jewish Paloma travels with her grandfather, Belo, as he uses their family's influence to keep their community safe.
Why you might like it: Rich details will make you feel like you're right there with Paloma as she bravely faces danger and longs to pursue her own dreams.
Author alert: Paloma's story was inspired by the real-life family history of award-winning author Gail Carson Levine.
by Pam Muñoz Ryan
The setting: the fictional country of Santa Maria, where Max Córdoba listens to his Buelo spin incredible stories, wonders about his long-absent mother, and hopes to make the local fútbol team.
What happens: Max learns that Buelo’s stories are true -- their family really does serve as guardians who guide refugees to safety in Mañanaland, and now it’s Max’s turn to undertake a hazardous journey.
Read it for: a poetic and powerful fantasy story with roots in the real world.
| | The Truth According to Blue by Eve Yohalem What it's about: Blue is sure that if she could find her family's legendary sunken treasure, people would see her as more than just "Diabetes Girl," the kid with the insulin pump and the alert dog. But how can she hunt treasure when she's stuck entertaining the spoiled daughter of a vacationing celebrity?
Series alert: If you like the thrilling risks of Blue's seaside treasure quest, you might want check out Cast Off, which tells the treasure's origin story.
| | Monstrous: The Lore, Gore, and Science Behind Your Favorite Monsters by Carlyn Beccia What it is: a smart and snarky guide to the science and history behind famous monsters such as werewolves, vampires, Frankenstein's creature, and Godzilla.
Questions answered: Is the Kraken just a giant squid? How can you prepare for a zombie attack? Is King Kong too big to be mathematically possible? Should you play with a cute baby Bigfoot?
Why you might like it: Short sections and eye-catching graphics make browsing easy, so you can read at your own pace.
| | Caught! Nabbing History's Most Wanted by Georgia Bragg What it is: a clever and comical collection of notorious figures -- including spies, assassins, pirates, revolutionaries, con artists, and thieves -- who all got caught, one way or another.
What's inside: cartoon illustrations and mini-biographies of people such as Joan of Arc, Rasputin, Mata Hari, and Blackbeard.
You might also like: the scares, scandals, and absurd situations in author Georgia Bragg's earlier books, How They Croaked and How They Choked.
| | Torpedoed: The True Story of the World War II Sinking of "The Children's Ship" by Deborah Heiligman What it is: A suspenseful and heart-wrenching account of the SS City of Benares, which sunk after being torpedoed during its World War II voyage to transport evacuated British children to Canada.
What's inside: photos, letters, and profiles of the people on board, from the crew to the chaperones to the many children who died in the icy waters.
Further reading: For a more action-focused view of underwater warfare during World War II, pick up Deborah Hopkinson's Dive!
| | Something Rotten: A Fresh Look at Roadkill by Heather L. Montgomery What it is: a funny yet respectful overview of how the bodies of roadkill animals can become museum specimens, art, food (yes, really), or an important source of scientific information.
Who it's for: Filled with matter-of-fact gore, Something Rotten is "not for squeamish souls," but those who are drawn to animal biology will be intrigued.
Try this next: For a broader look at decomposition, try Anita Sanchez's Rotten!; for a magical spin on roadkill, try Kat Leyh's graphic novel Snapdragon.
| | The Magician and the Spirits: Harry Houdini and the Curious Pastime... by Deborah Noyes Starring: escape artist and magician Harry Houdini, who led a crusade to expose how the sham séances and fake psychics of early 1900s spiritualism took advantage of grieving people.
Why you might like it: In reading about how Houdini debunked the tricks of spiritualists, you'll get the inside scoop on the ways in which magic tricks of the time were performed.
Did you know? Houdini was friends with Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes and a devoted spiritualist.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 10-13!